The Season is here anglers. It is summer whether the calendar says it or not. The river is high, the sun is bright, it’s light until almost 10 pm, water temps are above 50 degrees….the bugs are here.
Some of the best bugs in the upper river in my professional opinion. We have the Salmon Flies which pop early on the Yak. While other watersheds ate just now getting the hatches of the big orange morsels we are just finishing up. Historically never a prolific hatch the Salmon Flies typical correspond with our run off and Salmon pulses which negatively impacts that invertebrate. But it ushers in the next two stonefly species. The Yellow Sally and the Golden Stonefly.
The Yellow Sally is a small size 10 to 14 Yellow stonefly and the females have a red butt and egg sack that develops. They are unique in that they hatch out of the water column like a mayfly. And fish, especially cutties…smack the hell out of em. It’s ann easy eat because it hatches in mass throughout the middle of the day. Allowing trout to seek out and feed on them at their leisure. This makes for those lazy full belly slurps I. The back water and Eddie’s, but also those fast shoulder roll riffle sips that are quick and easy to miss. But fish also look for Sally’s up along the bank and in the tight fast water. It’s a fun bug that let’s us head hunt and pick fish off with dries during the middle of the day.
The Golden Stonefly my personal favorite is just a smidge smaller than the salmon fly. It’s bright yellow or golden or rusty colored. It’s just cool. They like other stoneflies are bank hatchers. They get up on the bank, in the grass and overhangs and hatch, mate, and the females come back to the river in the mid to late afternoon to lay eggs. Chucking big yellow bugs is wicked fun and the takes are explosive. It’s a big meal. The flows are up, the water temps put trout in prime feeding metabolism mode, and we get the awesome summer time days of big dry fishing.
We so get ants. Big carpenter ants. Otherwise known as a purple chubby. I have had days where we sling a single purple chubby for 8 hrs and hook fish all day. They love that stupid fly. We also have mornings with PMD mayfly hatches and fish chasing down meat-sickles before the sun makes them shy. Streamers can be really fun before 10 am as we get into June.
And this season…the drakes look to be good this season! There are a lot of nymphs. And it’s getting close. Fish are stoopid for Green Drakes. One of my favorite side channel bugs. Lots of options for different kinds of fishing.
There’s also caddis in the evenings, PED mayflies, spinner fall, and other terrestrial that start to become viable food for Trout battling the heavy summer flows of the Yakima River. Needless to say there is a lot of food and trout are in a position where they gotta eat it. It’s what fishing on the Yak is all about. The angler is at the advantage in the high water of the summer.
Fish basically gotta eat all day. They have had plenty of time to settle in now. The last salmon pulse has finished and the flows are going to stabilize for thr most part. Side channels have been open for 10 days now. Debris has settles, trees have found their resting places, the river is ready for summer….are you?
After last year. I hope to see a lot of familiar faces! It’s been since before the plague for a lot of us. The trips are coming in and I couldn’t be more grateful. We are on track to do a lot more trips over last season. You anglers keep my trout bum ass rambling and rolling. It is my absolute pleasure to share the Yakima River and the wild fish that live here with you all. Let’s make this summer bitchen…see ya riverside anglers.
The Teanaway River. The Yakima Rivers’ largest Freestone Tributary. The Teanaway River is a scrappy little river that has etched out his place against the rugged Enchantments, sandstone bedrock, through years of lumber harvest, gold mining, farming, some of its species going extinct like the native bull trout and salmon, to droughts, fires, and climate change…you name it the Teanaway has dealt with it. Still flowing…sometimes 11 cubic feet a second…trickling until it comes back to life with the rain and snowpack every season.
Lets talk scope about how big the Teanaway referred to as the T from now on. I have seen the T hit 10,000 cfs and I have seen it trickle into the Yakima as low as 9 cfs. In the span of 5 months I have seen it drop like that. You can review the historical data to see for yourselves on the BOR site. That River at one time would let out 15 plus thousand cfs. But it would also retain several 100 thousand acre feet of water within its Basin before man came around.
You can see pictures of the T from when the loggers, gold and coal miners showed up. You couldn’t even walk up the river or the woods for that matter. It was thick with trees some of them almost 1000 years old in places. There are still some left way back up in the high country. I found them. A few horse people know what I’m talk about. The things those trees know.
That river used to be one giant log jam from top to bottom. As it became developed for resources as well as living, the river was stripped and the flood plain wiped away. All that water that used to be retained lost in massive melt off events that washed away centuries of natural processes that made the T a bastion for native species of trout and other wildlife above and below the rivers surface.
The gravity of what the Teanaway used to be is lost on us. Only a few photos remain and only a select handful of people even recall that time these days. All that beautiful sandstone we love and think is so gorgeous. We shouldn’t see it. It should be covered in acres of gravel, stone, organic debris like wood and leaves, but its not. That is the bedrock. Not the substrate. The whole valley should literally be higher in elevation. If you look at LIDAR images from surveys done for conservation work you can see how the river used to flow.
It was a windy, constantly turning on itself, back winding, S curving, 90 degrees after 90 degrees. Huge pools and back skews would form around woody deposits, and these log jams were the size of high school stadium bleachers in places. Holding snow, and water all year long. There used to be glaciers back up in there. I’ve climbed and mountaineered their remnants. It was rugged beyond description. Only a few places like that still exist back up in there. Miles from where the road ends at the Ingalls trailhead.
Grizzly and Black bear, wolves, some of the largest Elk in the lower 48, 3 species of salmon, wild steelhead of their own specific genetic strain, a resident population of gentirically specific Teanaway River Bull Trout that have since gone extinct as well. Beaver, river otter, osprey, eagle, and of course the Teanaway River Westslope Cutthroat Trout. A genetically unique subspecies of Teanaway River Trout that are also one the last and farthest west reaching Westslope Cutththroat. Once you travel over Snoqualmie Pass and pass over the North Cascade Divide…all the Cutthroat Trout are a different species entirely. The Coastal Cutthroat Trout. Kinda neat huh?
Like the Bluebacks or Greenbacks also native subspecies of westlsope Trout that are super unique so too are our Teanaway River Westslope Cutthroat Trout. They hold a special place in my heart. For years I chased them with a small fly rod. Entranced by their beauty, their wildness, and their ferocity to a fly no matter if they are 3 inches or 18 inches. Those Yakima River cutties we love catching…where you think they come from? They are unique in color compared to other cutties like those of Montana or Idaho. They have a much more magenta or rise colored gill plate, a brighter chartreuse in the tail, larger leopard style spots, and two of the most neon of orange slashes that give them their namesake. These fish are in a position to really start recovering. With more work, help, and understanding of what makes them tick we already know so much. I have spent more time in recent seasons just enjoying the Teanaway. I volunteer time here and there but its in good hands and is on the right path. I will always come back to put more time into the Teanaway, and always thankful for all that have and continue to work on the restoration of that Teanaway Watershed.
As I came into conservation I dedicated hours upon hours to those fish. Learned more about them, developed a deep held respect and passion for them. The ability of these scrappy little Trout to continue to adapt and survive against literally everything that should have wiped them out is astounding. They still find a way. They have seen all but themselves leave their watershed. They are all that is left. The bulls are gone, salmon trying to be rehabilitated, steelhead…a few left…some years. The Westslope’s are the last stand.
This year they are at the advantage! The snow pack has been glorious and it is almost June and we still have 90 plus percent! It’s been seasons! There has been damn near a decade of constant habitat restoration work in the upper drainage and small tributary creeks. It is making a difference. The water is coming out of the Basin more slowly, more naturally. It’s not chocolate silt, which isn’t good! That is being deposited back into the river bed. It’s rebuilding the stream end back! Years from now areas where that sandstone lays bare…will be covered. Riparian zones are returning, land owners and users use the water more efficiently than they ever have.
As the river breaths, so to does the world around. It is something I get to see and be reminded of every time I float by the confluence or drive along the windy road up into the waters I have come to call my own.
It is an amazing place. Cherish it. Respect it. I have played in it’s waters depths, mountains, and forests since I was knee high to a duck. Before roads were paved and gates installed. Before campgrounds or guard rails. It’s a special place to many. Enjoy all that it offers. The Teanaway River is truly a Gem filled with a treasure of wild trout.
To be able to walk in the waters and chase trout I know have been hiding up in there all spring this season is an absolute gift. I hold every moment in those woods and in that water close to my heart. With a year like this in terms of snow, the excitement is thick to see if the large adult Trout are seeking out that small water like they naturally should. Chasing them with fly and rod or fins and snorkel, just to be able to witness them in any form and way will always be a pursuit of mine. It envelops my mind at times. Has for years. I invite you to see what it’s all about. You’ll see, whether with me on a trip or discovering the Teanaway on your own…I invite you to experience the gem and treasure it is.
Seriously get it. We are having one of the best seasons on the Yakima. It’s a big snow year and these fish know it. Our trout are taking full advantage if this wicked cold water this year. And they are digging the big flows…they already have big ass shoulders and we haven’t even hit summer time levels!
What do I lean when I put all that out there? First, the spring has been stupid good even with all the salmon pulses and dirty water. The fish had an amazing spawn this year. And are still going at it. Lots of big breeder fish that are sexually mature adults. This means all spring we’ve been hooking into troutzillas.
Only in the past 10 days have we started to see our juvenile fish hit the fly more regularly. That’s because the water temp has finally come up to 50 degrees or so, triggering trout metabolism into prime ranges. 52 to 55 is the sweet zone for troots. As the water warms and stabilizes, which it’s doing with all this wonderful snow pack, and we get our 1000 plus fish per mile to eat more regularly. The past 3 months it’s moslty been the larger breeder trout, or adults that wake up earlier for spawning that we’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Couple that with our wicked hatches of mayflies and skwallas this spring and you had a fucken fantastic early season.
May has been pretty awesome although light on the guiding side. But also expected as we transition to summer. The caddis are herr on thr hot days. And the stones…for a bit longer. Ants are already showing up, fish will eat em soon…Goldens, drakes, and the PMDs are percolating. Fish already picky for yellow. Flows have come up and are stabilizing, as the Teanaway plateaus and starts is summer drop the irrigation demand will increase the mainstream flows. With the high snow pack in the lower Yakima Basin we are having a nice easy transition into summer flows. It’s been years since we have had that. Pre 2015. See why my stoke is high. Record snow fall helps with over 350 inches or some shit.
Needless to say but we have an amazing season ahead of us. We are only a third of the way in. After the year we all had last year some river time does the mind and body good. Pick up a new thing post pandemic, learn a new skill, join a new community if outdoorsy people. Its wicked fun. Anyone can do it, from toddlers to seniors. Like Legos there is no age limit on fly fishing. Fish don’t care about much. Food, cold water, a good presentation, respectful release, and that’s being philosophical, really they don’t care about you, but they will say hi and give you a good shot of adrenaline. Open up the natural world a little bit more. Ease and calm your mind through wild animal chaos. There isn’t much in this world like fly fishing. I’ve done a lot….its singularity and uniqueness is one of its most appealing aspects.
Come share it with me this season. I invite you. Enjoy life and the world outside. We all know we missed it.
The spring has been a good one. I did more trips this spring than any previous. We had skwallas, bwos, and a decent March brown hatch that is still going. I’ve put over 40 days on the river and most of them guided. Tis a far better spring than 2020.
The month of May can be tricky. We get caddis and maybe salmon flies but we also get irrigation water and purges to make sure the reservoirs fill properly. We have a lot of snow still and it’s melting at a pretty normal pace. But there’s a lot of water so I expect higher flows here soon.
The river is back in decent shape for May. And once the warmer temps being the water temps up it won’t really matter what the flows are. If it near 50 or more it’s and it’s got 15 plus inches of viz…its fishy. The big flows make fish eat more, push them into angler advantageous water, and typically make them eat dries for me.
I’ve become a bit of a dry fly whisperer with Yakima Trout. The handful of new faces in the boat this spring solidified that for me. I have heard for years now that anglers never catch fish on dries on the Yak. Which we all know isn’t true. It comes down to confidence. Yes they will eat a nymph. But they will also eat a dry. Fish the water not the fish. Too many times I see anglers dredging perfectly good dry fly water with indicators and then winder why they aren’t hooking fish. Or why it takes all day to get a fish outta that one spot.
Fish are picky. Not just for food, but how, when, and where they eat it. That’s why presentation, even with nymphs is key. When you run nymphs through dry fly specific water it spooks fish. They are up in the water column, on high alert, and on the hunt for small food. All their senses are at full function, eye sight, lateral line, oxygen content, all the stuff and things that trout use are being used. So duh…they aren’t gonna eat your shit. Chuck a dry just right and Boom. Same in reverse for throwing dries into nymphy water. You really think a troots gonna come up through 8 feet of water for a dry after not taking 30 casts of your nymph…quit it.
How do you think I get away with fishing behind everyone. Just gotta fish the water not the fish. I pick it apart, dissect it. I tailor my trips for specific fishing styles and types. We hit water with a purpose and a process. We try it all, fish it all, when something something clicks we stuck with it until it doesn’t and then start the process of dialing it in all over again. It’s what guides do. I love it and that’s the groovy part of being riverside most of the time.
The caddis are here. Percolating but here. As the warmer air and water temps arrive the fish will be all over that good source more than they are now. We also have salmon flies that seem to be happening. Historically not something we focus on here on the yak save for a few days if we are lucky but the Yakima does as she likes. And with how skwallas were and how many big salmon fly nymphs I see in the water column lately…I have hope. Like spicey heartburn…are they gonna happen…will fish eat them on top?
I have lots days open this month but as things get nice it fills up. Caddis are gonna pop hoard soon and you get your shots at 30 fish days especially fishing to dusk. I highly recommend the evening half day floats. Fish till dusk, or caddis:30, watch the sun set on the river, catch a mess of fish on dries. It’s pretty nice.
The run off and salmon pulses can be a real pain in the ass. But the are a neccessary and natural part of the way the tailwater here is managed. Fish are used to crazy water flows in Washington state so these periodic bumps that mimic run off and snow melt to help outward salmon migration. These bumps are good for the river too.
The Yakima is a tailwater and needs to be recharged with with big flushes of water. Like it’s little brother river the teanaway which is freestone and foes this run off and pulse process without help. The Yakima needs to facilitate those naturally occurring flow fluctuations with the temps, precip, and snowmelt and its done with these pulses.
This season they have matched the Teanaway output and there is still over 100 percent snow pack for the upper Yakima Basin. When these pulses hit the Yak the fish get moved and pushed. It opens up new areas. It also pushes particulates, sludge, bugs, gravel, trees, organic material, all over the place. This is a good thing and helps with the health of the river. I’ve seen these pulses and how they are run improve over my tune here. The river benefits, and in turn the trout, and so to the angler.
I’ve had the pleasure of guiding the Yak for 7 seasons and fishing it for over a decade now. The river has only improved in that time. While these pulses makes the fishing tougher than hell. It’s good for troots. And with the spring being pretty fing decent this season I can’t complain.
The spring is about done. With March Browns finishing out April and bringing us into May. Caddis are close. With the forecast I think they will be late this season. Everything seems to be pushed back a bit. It’s cold, water is still sub 50, fish are just now really spawning. Things are more normal this season in the trout world. Which after 2020 is a nice thing.
I also anticipate a good salmon fly hatch this year. After skwallas and how many nymphs I’m seeing, with the amount amount of fish taking big chunky stones underneath and not caddis…makes me wonder. We usually get crap flows during salmon flies here with irrigation water, but that shit is already running due to the snow pack and with these pulses the fish have come accustomed to the flows changes now. It’s all a matter of how warm it gets over the next 3 weeks.
May is starting to fill up with trips. The 8th 15th and 16th and the 23rd and 29th are the weekends that are open. I highly reccomend weekdays as we get into the warmer days. Gets crowded out there. We have caddis, Salmon flies, and the streamer game will really pick up. It’s gonna be a good year anglers. Caddis for dinner soon. Late starts, off river at dark 30, taking out with the taillights. Get in on the caddis half days or those all day full days. Skwalla specials are over! Was a great skwalla holla, gotta thank everyone who came out and made this spring one of the busiest.
The Spring. It has been a pleasure and an absolute blessing to wake with the river this season. All of here were denied access to our waters and outdoor escapes this time last year. 2020 can eat it. We all lost our ability to escape; whether it be our places of worship, our communities, our outdoors, our families, it was all a cluster.
After not being to come out of hibernation and wake with the river last year I felt always disconnected from it. I never felt like I was fully understanding what she was saying. Having the constant disconnect to its tole. This season season has been quite the opposite.
The spring has started off fantastic. Warmer and sunnier than usual, and with less runoff and high water than I anticipated. It’s here now, but already on the downward trend. As an angler and a guide the spring is a little different. While this valley is a farming community and things are just now starting to grow….the spring is on its way out in fly angler terms.
You have winter, then mid February hits and that’s the start of the early season for me. March and April are Spring…May is its own thing…its called caddis. While BWOs, Skwallas, and March Browns round out our spring bugs. There is this transition month of May that brings the Yakima River two things. The bigger flows of irrigation, and the caddis hatch. The fish get pushed into the bank due to the heavier than normal flow…and the caddis are there for them to eat. Works out great for anglers. And while May isn’t technically Summer…its not really Spring either. It’s just caddis.
Caddis are best described as an aquatic moth. We have lots of different kinds in the river that hatch from May to October. The big ones are Mother’s Day Caddis or the Brachycentrus numerosus, or American Granom, and the October Caddis or Dicosmoecus Gilvipes. We will focus on the mothers day.
The scientific name even says numerosus, as is numerous or a fuck ton. And if you’ve witnessed a decent caddis hatch you know. Sometimes the bugs are so thick you can see the other side of the river, you’re eating and shit. And so are the fish. On the Yakima fish are post spawny, hungry, and the flows are jacked….so they need calories. And shoveling caddis into their mouths is what these feesh do.
The caddis hatch brings about the bigger number days on dry fly eats, but fish in general are more inclined to take a fly as we get into the month of May. Things start working for the anglers advantage unlike the spring where the trout typically has the upper hand. Water temps, flows, metabolism, food sources, and weather all shift and the angler has a few cards to play. The Yakima is a caddis river, especially the lower end. The time is almost nigh.
Chucking elk hairs and pupa patterns tight to bank, where two inches closer adds two inches to the troots tail. It’s a fun time to fish the Yakima. And this season is shaping up to be DECENT!
The Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch is already starting to fill up. Check that calendar and schedule a fish chasing day…bring your mum! It’ll be wicked fun.
I can’t thank everyone enough for coming our for trips this spring, for the fly orders that I am still behind on, for the help with the shenanigans, and the continued support of your local trout guide. I appreciate it greatly. This spring has been one of the busiest in the past 7 YEARS! of guiding. The 2021 season is looking really busy and super fishy!
See ya riverside anglers. We back in the flow this season anglers. Get it, get Bent, and chase troots.
According to the BOR the salmon pulse will begin its downward trend today and into Tuesday. Hurray! Fishing the drop can be wicked. I’m hitting it tomorrow to see what’s up! Spring Time Flows Baby! Fish are spawny, they just got pushed around, they gonna be hangry.
I have the 7th and 8th this week when the river will drop hard! I also have the 12th, 14th-16th open! The last Skwalla Special Days up for grabs!
The time is almost upon us! 3 to 5 weeks from now the Skwallas will be popping, fish will be smacking, and trips will be running. Get on the calendar for the 2021 Spring Season on the Yakima River! Call, click, or message to book a trip before they fill up!!!
I hope to see you this season! Its been a rough year getting here and I can’t thank you enough for your continued support. I wouldn’t have gotten to 2021 if it wasn’t for my clients!
Lets make 2022 a bitchen year anglers. Cant freaking wait! Stoke is very high.